Can the federal government keep us safe from elderly drivers?

There comes a point for many Norwalk families when the decision is made that grandma or grandpa can no longer drive and his or her license must be taken away. Oftentimes, this decision is made before a grandparent causes an accident, but sometimes an accident is what it takes to prompt family members to take action. Although drivers 65 and older are the safest drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, elderly drivers are certainly not immune to car crashes.

In part of its effort to keep all Connecticut drivers safe, the Traffic Safety Administration is focusing on elderly drivers. While USA Today reports that the federal agency's efforts are designed to reduce the rise in serious injury and death among older drivers, this plan can also help to keep none elderly drivers safe, too.

The agency's Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines provide rules to keep drivers safe and are based on the issues identified that make some elderly drivers at-risk drivers. Looking at changes in vision, flexibility, strength and cognition, the agency hopes to keep both senior drives and drivers under 65 safe.

There is also an initiative to improve vehicle safety and technology. In addition to the increasingly common safety features that appear in cars, such as collision warnings, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and other similar devices, the agency has created a "Silver" rating for vehicles, which denotes better protection for older drivers.

The third aspect of the agency's plan focuses on collecting better data.

Though it is unknown whether this program will truly make Norwalk's streets safer for all drivers, it is an important step in protecting everyone from potential at-risk motorists.

Source: USA Today, "Feds making new rules for senior drivers," Matt Schmitz, Dec. 8, 2013

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